Jeremiah 21:9
He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.
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(9) And falleth to the Chaldeans.—The words must have seemed to the messengers to counsel treachery and desertion, and were remembered against the prophet in the taunt of Jeremiah 37:13. They were, however, acted on by not a few (Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15).

His life shall be unto him for a prey.—The phrase is characteristic of Jeremiah, and forcibly illustrates the misery of the time. Life itself was not a secure possession, but as the spoil which a man seizes on the field of battle, and with which he hastens away, lest another should deprive him of it. It occurs again in Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5.

21:1-10 When the siege had begun, Zedekiah sent to ask of Jeremiah respecting the event. In times of distress and danger, men often seek those to counsel and pray for them, whom, at other times, they despise and oppose; but they only seek deliverance from punishment. When professors continue in disobedience, presuming upon outward privileges, let them be told that the Lord will prosper his open enemies against them. As the king and his princes would not surrender, the people are exhorted to do so. No sinner on earth is left without a Refuge, who really desires one; but the way of life is humbling, it requires self-denial, and exposes to difficulties.He that ... falleth to the Chaldeans - This was to counsel desertion, and would have been treason in an ordinary man: but the prophets Spoke with an authority above that even of the king, and constantly interfered in political matters with summary decisiveness. Compare Matthew 24:16-18.

A prey - Something not a man's own, upon which he seizes in the midst of danger, and hurries away with it. So must the Jews hurry away with their lives as something more than they had a right to, and place them in the Chaldaean camp as in a place of safety.

9. (Jer 38:2, 17, 18).

falleth to—deserts to.

life … a prey—proverbial, to make one's escape with life, like a valuable spoil or prey that one carries off; the narrowness of the escape, and the joy felt at it, are included in the idea (Jer 39:18).

But certainly, if ever any man spake high treason, this prophet now did it, when there was an enemy besieging them, telling them, that if they would save their lives, they must revolt from their king, and join with their enemies. All that can be said in excuse for the prophet is, that this was a Divine revelation to him, and a message sent to the king himself.

His life shall be given him for a prey, appeareth to have been a proverbial expression, either signifying.

1. A man’s possession of his life, as a prey or booty recovered from death, or the hand of the enemy; or,

2. A man’s rejoicing in the saving of his life, as if he had got some notable booty.

He that abideth in this city,.... Imagining himself safe there; not fearing its being taken by the king of Babylon; though it was so often foretold by the prophet of the Lord that it should:

shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: by the first of these, in sallying out against the enemy; and by the other two, which raged within the city:

but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you,

he shall live; not fall upon them, as the words may be literally rendered; so it would describe such that went out of the city and sallied upon them; whereas it designs such who should go out of the city, and surrender themselves unto the Chaldeans; submit to them, so as to obey them, as the Targum adds; such shall have their lives spared:

and his life shall be unto him for a prey; it shall be like a spoil or booty taken out of an enemy's hands; it shall be with difficulty obtained, and with joy possessed, as a prey or spoil is.

He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be to him for a {e} prize.

(e) As a thing recovered from extreme danger, Jer 37:2,39:18,45:5.

9. for a prey] something snatched up hurriedly and borne away with him rather than his secure possession. For the phrase cp. Jeremiah 38:2, Jeremiah 39:18, Jeremiah 45:5.

Verse 9. - He that abideth in this city, etc. No doubt Jeremiah often gave this counsel to his fellow-citizens (comp. Jeremiah 38:1, 17), and it appears from Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15, that many of the Jews acted in accordance with it. Falleth; more distinctly, falleth away (as Jeremiah 37:14, Authorized Version); i.e. goeth over to. Jeremiah 21:9The counsel given to the people and royal family how to escape death. - Jeremiah 21:8. "And unto the people thou shalt say: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. Jeremiah 21:9. He that abideth in this city shall die by sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and have his soul for a prey. Jeremiah 21:10. For I have set my face on this city for evil and not for good, saith Jahveh; into the hand of the king of Babylon shall it be given, who shall burn it with fire. Jeremiah 21:11. And to the house of the king of Judah: Hear the word of Jahveh: Jeremiah 21:12. House of David! thus hath Jahveh said: Hold judgment every morning, and save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury break forth as fire, and burn unquenchably, because of the evil of your doings." What the prophet is here to say to the people and the royal house is not directly addressed to the king's envoy, but is closely connected with the answer he was to give to the latter, and serves to strengthen the same. We need not be hampered by the assumption that Jeremiah, immediately after that answer, communicated this advice, so that it might be made known to the people and to the royal house. The counsel given in Jeremiah 21:8-12 to the people was during the siege repeatedly given by Jeremiah both to the king and to the people, cf. Jeremiah 38:1., Jeremiah 38:17., and Jeremiah 27:11., and many of the people acted by his advice, cf. Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15. But the defenders of the city, the authorities, saw therein treason, or at least a highly dangerous discouragement to those who were fighting, and accused the prophet as a traitor, Jeremiah 38:4., cf. Jeremiah 37:13. Still Jeremiah, holding his duty higher than his life, remained in the city, and gave as his opinion, under conviction attained to only by divine revelation, that all resistance is useless, since God has irrevocably decreed the destruction of Jerusalem as a punishment for their sins. The idea of Jeremiah 21:7 is clothed in words taken from Deuteronomy 30:15, cf. Deuteronomy 11:26. ישׁב , Jeremiah 21:9, as opposed to יצא, does not mean: to dwell, but: to sit still, abide. To fall to the Chaldeans, i.e., to go over to them, cf. Jeremiah 37:14; Jeremiah 39:9; 2 Kings 25:11; על is interchanged with אל, Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 52:15. The Chet. יחיה is right, corresponding to ימוּת; the Keri וחיה is wrong. His life shall be to him for a prey, i.e., he shall carry it thence as a prey, i.e., preserve it. Jeremiah 21:10 gives the reason for the advice given. For I have set my face, cf. Jeremiah 44:11, recalls Amos 9:4, only there we have עיני for פּני, as in Jeremiah 24:6. To set the face or eye on one means: to pay special heed to him, in good (cf. Jeremiah 39:12) or in evil sense; hence the addition, "for evil," etc.
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